Anyone who has had the misfortune of accidentally getting their hair in close range to a candle can tell you, the burned outcome can be somewhat traumatizing, but when the flame's powers are harnessed for good (and at the right angle), fire can actually be used to improve the health of your hair. Velaterapia, also known as "candle therapy" involves running candle along the length of your hair to burn off the split ends typically solved by making contact with a pair of scissors. "It's an ideal treatment for someone who wants to keep their hair long, but keeps getting split ends and doesn't want to go shorter," explains Fernanda Lacerda, founder of Maria Bonita Salon in New York City. "Our stylist Ricardo Gomes has practiced this technique for years—he twists sections of hair so tightly that only the split ends stick out, then he runs the flame over it." That being said, it's not one you should try at home. Lacerda emphasizes that the method should be practiced by an expert who is super-precise with the section-twist-burn motions.
Because the hair is twisted so tightly and the flame is passed over the area very quickly, the un-damaged portion of your hair remains healthy and intact. "After the hair is twisted into small tendrils, a candle is run over each section until your whole head is done," Lacerda says. "Then, you go do the sink to wash it, and a deep conditioner is used to seal the cuticle back together—similar to the final step in a keratin treatment." The treatment can be done on fine and thick textures alike, just expect to sit in the salon chair for roughly two hours, and arrive with a fresh blowout. When your hair is as sleek, it's easier to single out your flyaways, and you can return to your natural texture immediately after. Provided that your hair is long enough to twist, you're a good candidate for velaterapia, and you can have the treatment done every three to four months. As for that burnt hair smell? "It's not that bad!" Lacerda says, laughing. "I've read the comments, and it's really not that bad."